Dr Seuss’s timeless classic, The Cat in the Hat, is open to several interpretations. Our bedtime rendition for Austin usually involves a fast and frantic tumble through Seuss’s glorious, simple words. The televised version turns it into a jolly, and comfortingly homely jape.
The team behind Greenwich Theatre’s Cat in the Hat, on the other hand, have come up with a performance that is mischievous and lugubrious in turn. At times it even borders on the Burtonesque.
When I read that the National Theatre of Great Britain’s original production had been adapted by Katie Mitchell, a devotee of modern dance legend Pina Bausch, I was anticipating lots of interpretative leaping and bounding.
Instead, under Paul Taylor-Mills and Lillie Collier’s direction, these actors played the few characters with taut panache. Ashley Bates was a Cat who oversaw proceedings with stately poise rather than madcap zinginess. There were moments, with his whitened face and tubby midriff, when he seemed more avuncular ghost than lithe, playful feline.